Maqluba is a Palenstinian dish popular in Jordan and Iraq. It means "upside down" in Arabic, it gets it's name from how it's presented. Everything is cooked together in a pot and is flipped upside down right before serving. While not complicated or difficult, the dish is a bit finnacky or time consuming. There are several different cooking methods involved but they are well worth the extra steps to present this impressive molded dinner.
The onions in the final presentation are caramelized, but not in the traditional method. When you saute them before adding everything on top you don't want them to be already caramelized on they will get gummy and sticky when the rice cooks and cling to the pan then you flip it.
6 chicken thighs
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp. peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower
1 small, thin, eggplant
2 c. rice
1 tsp. hawaij seasoning
Toasted almonds, pine nuts, chopped parsley
1 (8") cooking pot with at least 4" sides
Preheat the oven to broil.
In a large pot heat some of the olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and brown on both sides. Once the chicken is browned cover with 6 cups of water and add the bouillon cubes, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
Cut the the cauliflower in to large florets and slice the eggplant in to 1/4 inch half circles. Season them both with salt and place in a strainer. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Toss the cauliflower and eggplant with olive oil and place on a baking tray. Broil on each side until brown without worrying about cooking all the way through.
In the strainer add the rice and rinse really well and allow to keep draining while the vegetables cook.
Once the chicken is cooked remove the chicken and set aside. Discard the bay leaf and peppercorns.
In an 8 inch pot with at least 4 inch sides heat more olive oil and add the onion. Saute until translucent. Leave the onions, without stirring for about 4 - 5 minutes until starting to get a slight amount of color. You do NOT want to caramelize them completely, just start the process.
Remove from the heat and arrange the chicken thighs across the bottom. Add a layer of cauliflower and then eggplants. Add in half the rice and smooth down and work in to the cracks and spaces. Add the remaining cauliflower and eggplant and then top with the remaining rice. Sprinkle the top with the hawaij seasoning.
Gently pour the reserved chicken broth over the rice and vegetables until it covers it completely with about half an inch over the top. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Remove from the heat and remove the lid. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Place a serving dish on top of the pot and place your hand firmly over the platter and invert. Leave again for another 10 minutes and then remove the pan from the rice and the plate.
Top with sliced almonds or pine nuts and chopped fresh parsley.
Enjoy serving and eating your maqluba!!